NVIDIA may be the dominant force in the graphics card market, but that doesn’t mean the company hasn’t faced its share of criticism for anti-competitive and anti-consumer practices. One of the most prominent arguments concerns NVIDIA’s support for older architectures or lack thereof.
Many enthusiasts have claimed that as NVIDIA releases newer hardware, it degrades the performance of older GPUs to keep the latest offerings more competitive and “persuade” consumers to buy them. In this post, we look at the performance figures of the Kepler-based GeForce GTX 780 over the past driver releases in major titles.
These tests were conducted using a GTX 780 running at a constant 1202 MHz paired with a Haswell i7-4770K Oc’d to 4.5 GHz
Crysis 3 is no longer the hardware-killer it was at the time of launch, but for the purpose of stress-testing and benchmarking it’s still a solid game. Using the different driver versions released over the past several years, we see that the performance of the GTX 780 doesn’t decrease but as a matter of fact sees a marginal boost. So, we can safely say that the performance hasn’t deteriorated and no gimping can be confirmed in case of Crysis 3.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 when it released was hailed as the Crysis killer and it’d be safe to say that running the game at higher resolutions using the ultra preset was no mean feat. Although with Maxwell and Pascal, the game is less of a menace on the performance front, it nevertheless looks really pretty and is a fantastic game to boot. Looking at the performances of various driver versions, the performance has once again improved with each successive update.
Mass Effect Andromeda
Say what you will about the rest of the game, but Mass Effect Andromeda looked gorgeous on PC, especially at 4K. For a third time, we see that the drivers improve performance and not reduce it for the 5 year old GTX 780.
Bethesda’s demon-shooting sim Doom is one of the classic FPS games. The latest iteration of the game uses Vulkan and OGL and packs a decent amount of detail. The older pre-release drivers don’t really support the game, but the newer three run the game at identical frame rates.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is nearly three years old, but continues to be one of the most detailed games. The 322.21 driver shows dismal lows, but the problem seems to have been fixed in the newer releases. This game once again shows improvements in frame-rates with newer driver releases. No gimping.
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 shows identical performance metrics across the board using the very high preset at FHD. Considering that the debut title in the franchise performed quite terribly at launch on the 780s, this is a pleasant surprise.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of NVIDIA’s partner titles, and features a fair deal of Gameworks effects. Considering that, you’d expect the performance to improve with driver updates, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The GTX 780 maintains constant performance from driver v322.21 to 411.70, and although there are minor fluctuations they are within the margin of error. Regardless, no performance deterioration.
So as you can see, we can safely conclude that NVIDIA doesn’t ditch its older hardware as newer models are released. In fact, in some cases we even saw improvements with each successive driver release. You may notice the newer cards see gains that the older architectures lack, but you can’t really blame NVIDIA for focusing on the flagship generation and giving a 5 year old architecture reduced priority. Hence the conclusion- NVIDIA does not gimp or deteriorate the performance of non-flagship generations.